In connection with the building of the Sanctuary, the Torah portions of this week and last speak a lot about precious metals, particularly gold. In a very interesting talk from 1979, the Lubavitcher Rebbe explained the true significance of gold.

...every physical thing has in its core some goodness.

Since G‑d is the Creator of all and the essence of good, no matter how materialistic something appears to us, every physical thing has in its core some goodness. Even money, often used in inappropriate ways, nevertheless in essence is holiness.

It is easy to see that gold and other precious metals and gems are not needed for the world to function. Silver (in Hebrew—kesef—also the word for money) is adequate as a means of monetary exchange, for making jewelry, or what have you. In the broadest terms, luxuries of all sorts such as gold and jewels are beyond what we need for basic living. Actually, it is the luxuries that test us, that bring us to our limits, sometimes even push us past what we know is good for us.

This being the case, why did G‑d create gold? The Talmud states gold's purpose was only for use in the Holy Temple. There was a need for a Sanctuary, a place for G‑d to be revealed. If the Sanctuary would be like any other place, then it would not be apparent that there was any difference between the Sanctuary and any other place! As analogy, even though an animal's barn may have heating and systems for delivering food and drink, you would still not think of decorating a barn to be beautiful. On the other hand, we make every effort that our own homes be beautiful because it helps us lead productive lives.

So when we build a Sanctuary, a Temple, or even a "mikdash ma'at" [miniature sanctuary] — a synagogue, study hall, or school—it is not enough to build it as we would our house because that would demonstrate that there is really no special importance in it. Rather it is imperative for us to search out the 'gold' for places that have higher levels of spirituality, even if our own homes suffice with the "silver" and "copper" kinds of decorations. use gold and luxuries for their true purpose in revealing G‑dliness...

The opportunity here is two-fold. First, to use gold and luxuries for their true purpose in revealing G‑dliness and second, that not only the Jewish community, but all the nations in the world should see that we invest in spirituality and holiness, whereas when it comes to our own comforts, we manage with silver alone.

This concept connects to our daily prayers. Thrice daily, we ask that G‑d grace us with MORE than we need for our basic sustenance. On what should we spend these extra resources? Not on gluttonous eating and frivolous drinking! It is incumbent upon us to use the extra resources for holiness, positive acts, charity, building institutions like synagogues, study halls, schools, and all of the many projects that encourages the fulfillment of Judaism in the world.

This is the reason we ASK for extra. And when G‑d responds positively, giving us more than we need, He also relies on us as His emissaries to know this abundance comes from Him. He trusts us to utilize these resources to purify and elevate the world, until it will be a true dwelling place for G‑d. When we do this, we fulfill the verse, "Four portions for you, and the fifth for Pharaoh". (Genesis 47:24) The Zohar explains, in this context, that Pharaoh refers to G‑d, the Source of all abundance. When we give 1/5 for spiritual needs, G‑d gives us the remaining 4/5 to use for our needs and those of our family

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

Based on Sichat Yud Alef Nissan 5739

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